Carlos Mendes: “Everything we asked for in terms of the effort, the mentality, the work that everyone put in was very good and positive.” Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
It’s win or go home for the Cosmos Monday night.
Win and they could have a fighting chance to reach the semifinals of the National Independent Soccer Association Fall Tournament.
Lose or tie and the Cosmos will fly back to New York one disappointed team that had high hopes of bringing home a trophy that has been quite elusive the past four years.
The Cosmos (0-1-1, 1 point), who haven’t won a league championship since 2016, take on the LA Force (1-1-0, 3) in the second game of a Group B doubleheader at Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck, Mich. Monday at 8 p.m.
New York needs to beat LA Force if they have any hopes of moving on.
“Now we have to take care of business on Monday,” Cosmos head coach Carlos Mendes said.
There are several scenarios for the Cosmos. The best one for New York would be a win by first-place Chattanooga FC (1-0-1, 4 points) over the Cal United Strikers FC (1-1-0, 3) in the 5 p.m. match-up and a New York triumph over LA. A draw between Chattanooga and Cal United would mean the Cosmos would need to win and erase a minus-two goal differential to reach the semis.
The top two teams in each group will advance to Wednesday’s final four.
Mendes said that will be make tactical changes depending on the result of the opening game.
“We’re going through everything,” he said. “Depending on the result, it could be a matter of how many goals we need to win by, if we can win by a certain amount of goals. We just have to be focused and be ready and then we’ll know going into the game right before game what exactly we’ll need.”
The Cosmos have endured a frustrating tournament, having failed to score in either of their games. They opened with a 2-0 loss to Cal United Tuesday before playing Chattanooga FC to a scoreless draw Friday night. New York dominated both encounters in possession and opportunities but could not solve the defense.
Deep into stoppage time against Chattanooga, Charlie Ledula headed a long free kick just right of the net. A goal and a win would have given the Cosmos different options Monday night.
“It looked like it had a chance to go in,” Mendes said. “There were a couple of those. It didn’t fall. It was good take by Charlie. Put himself in a good spot. A couple of inches one way, it’s a different result. That’s how this game works.”
Mendes was impressed with the players’ performance and effort.
“Everything we asked for in terms of the effort, the mentality, the work that everyone put in was very good and positive,” he said. “It put ourselves in a lot of good spots. This game can be cruel. If you don’t execute and get the bounce, finish your chances, that’s the way its going to fall. We we’re proud of the mentality, the effort, the things that we asked out of the group they did. We just have to find a way now to be more clinical and take those chances.”